Choose the right word
alleviate, abate, allay, assuage, mitigate, relieve, temper
To alleviate is to make something easier to endure ( to alleviate the pain following surgery); allay is often used interchangeably, but it also means to put to rest, to quiet or calm ( to allay their suspicions). Assuage and allay both suggest the calming or satisfying of a desire or appetite, but assuage implies a more complete or permanent satisfaction ( we allay our hunger by nibbling hors d'oeuvres, but a huge dinner assuages our appetite). To relieve implies reducing the misery or discomfort to the point where something is bearable ( headphones help relieve the monotony of the cross-country bus trip), and mitigate, which comes from a Latin word meaning to soften, usually means to lessen in force or intensity ( mitigate the storm's impact). Abate suggests a progressive lessening in degree or intensity ( her fever was abating). To temper is to soften or moderate ( to temper justice with mercy), but it can also mean the exact opposite: to harden or toughen something ( tempering steel; a body tempered by lifting weights).